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Hope Phones: Recycling Smartphones to Save Lives in Underdeveloped Countries

Posted on September 30, 2011 I Written By

[blackbirdpie url=”http://twitter.com/#!/HopePhones/status/118750508977623040″]

This tweet brings up a very interesting angle on the mHealth arena.  I have already written a lot about the intense growth of mHealth in underdeveloped areas, and specifically in Africa.  I have made it very clear that mobile phones and the new apps and devices that utilize that will save many lives in these countries where the healthcare is more sparse, and in some cases, nonexistent.

Like most people I have three or four old cellphones floating around my house that get used mostly as toys by my kids.  Hope Phones is trying to put those phones to good use, and prevent them from doing harm to the environment.  The dual benefit nature of their mission is something worth recognizing.

I’m sure it is no surprise to anyone that cellphones are full of chemicals and other things that are bad for the environment.  If we can eliminate even a small percentage of the millions of cell phones going in the garbage then we are having an impact for good.

Maybe more importantly, if we can put those phones in the hands of people that could use them to improve their quality of life then we have done even more good in the world.  It is sad how much stuff in this world gets thrown away that could be used by other people.  It is a trite phrase that, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure,” but it is anything but trite when you consider that this action could quite literally save someone’s life.

For more information about Hope Phones, and to learn how you can contribute to their cause, please visit their website.

Cerner Instant Access Demo Video Part 1

Posted on I Written By

This video demonstrates the features of Cerner Instant Access. Instant Access reduces the time it takes for clinicians to reach the point of productivity, getting them access to patient data faster leaving more time for patient interaction. This video shows the workflows available from different workstations as well as from mobile devices.

 

 

Watch the video here.

De-identified Healthcare Data – Is It Really Unidentifiable

Posted on I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

There’s always been some really interesting discussion about EHR vendors selling the data from their EHR software. Turns out that many EHR vendors and other healthcare entities are selling de-identified healthcare data now, but I haven’t heard much public outcry from them doing it. Is it because the public just doesn’t realize it’s happening or because the public is ok with de-identified data being sold. I’ve heard many argue that they’re happy to have their de-identified data sold if it improves public health or if it gives them a better service at a cheaper cost.

However, a study coming out of Canada has some interesting results when it comes to uniquely identifying people from de-identified data. The only data they used was date of birth, gender, and full postal code data. “When the full date of birth is used together with the full postal code, then approximately 97% of the population are unique with only one year of data.”

One thing that concerns me a little about this study is that postal code is a pretty unique identifier. Take out postal code and you’ll find much different results. Why? Cause a lot of people share the same birthday and gender. However, the article does offer a reasonable suggestion based on the results of the study:

“Most people tend to think twice before reporting their year of birth [to protect their privacy] but this report forces us all to think about the combination or the totality of data we share,” said Dr. El Emam. “It calls out the urgency for more precise and quantitative approaches to measure the different ways in which individuals can be re-identified in databases – and for the general population to think about all of the pieces of personal information which in combination can erode their anonymity.”

To me, this is the key point. It’s not about creating fear and uncertainty that has no foundation, but to consider more fully the effect on patient privacy of multiple pieces of personal information in de-identified patient data.

Common EHR Implementation Issue – EMR Upgrade Problems

Posted on September 29, 2011 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

I’m really excited that this Common EHR implementation issues series has been so popular. If you missed it, you can see the previous posts in the series: Unexpected EHR Expenses, EHR Performance Issues, a little follow up to avoiding the EHR performance issues altogether, and inadequate EHR templates.

This weeks common EHR implementation issue is: EMR Upgrade Problems

I’d like to categorize this EHR implementation issue into two areas. One is upgrading to an EHR from an old legacy EHR and/or PMS. The second is upgrading your existing EHR that’s just outdated. I’ll take them in reverse order.

Upgrade of Existing Outdated EHR
In this world of your web browser and operating system auto updating at regular intervals it’s sometimes hard to remember that not all software does that. In fact, it turns out that most software doesn’t auto update (often for good reason). Of course, this problem doesn’t apply to a SaaS based EHR software since those updates are applied whether you like it or not. The nice part is that the SaaS EHR updates appear to the user to just happen automatically with little to no intervention on their part. Of course, we’ll save what happens when a SaaS EHR update causes you problems for another post. In the client server world of EHR (or hybrid EHR as some like to call themselves when they’re web based on an in house server) you will have to deal with updating your EHR.

I think with rare exception, it’s a huge mistake to not keep your EHR software up to date (goes for most other software as well). I’m not suggesting that even client server software should auto update. Considering the deployment and upgrade model of most EHR software, it’s almost essential to review the new feature list before doing an update to ensure that the update won’t cause you unnecessary heartache. Understanding the changes that will happen with the EHR Upgrade will let you warn your users about it so that they don’t come running into your office after the upgrade wondering why their favorite feature was changed.

What’s the problem with not upgrading? Many might just think that they don’t need to update their EHR software since they don’t want/need the extra features that are part of the upgrade. This is a bad strategy for a couple reasons. First, there are often security fixes that are part of the EHR upgrade that you’ll be missing out on if you don’t upgrade. Second, a bunch of relatively minor updates is much better on a clinic than one massive one that requires a ton of change. Third, when a future update comes that has a feature you do want, it’s not always pretty to go through multiple upgrades at the same time. Fourth, try calling the EHR support when you’re on an old version. Most of the time they’re going to say you need to upgrade for them to appropriately support you.

One other suggestion on EMR Upgrades now that I’ve supported the idea of upgrading. Just because I suggest you upgrade to the latest version of your EHR, doesn’t mean you have to be the beta tester for the company. Do the upgrade early in the process, but not necessarily so early that you’re going to be the bug tester for the company.

Upgrading an EHR from a Legacy EHR or PMS
This situation happens most often when either a clinic decides to switch from their old hasn’t been updated legacy PMS (which might include some basic EHR features) or when a clinic decides to move off their existing EHR to a new one.

Upgrading from a legacy PMS could easily be a whole series of blog posts. Suffice it to say that the biggest challenge with the upgrade from the old legacy PMS system is often getting the data out of it. Some legacy PMS systems don’t provide that data willing. In fact, many will even charge you to get access to it. They’ve basically lost you as a customers, so they’re trying to maximize whatever revenue they can get. It’s not pretty.

Even if you can get access to the data, there’s often a lot of data manipulation that will have to occur. A common problem that’s related to this is whether you even want to get the data out of the old PMS. Far too often, the data in the old legacy system has so much junk in it, that it’s worth considering the option of starting from scratch. It’s not pretty to upload inconsistent and ugly data from a legacy system into your nice, new EHR software.

Switching from one EHR software to another is becoming more and more common. In 2-3 years I believe we’re going to see an amazing influx of EHR software switches. It will be the topic du jour. We’re already starting to see it in a number of situations: an EHR that isn’t certified, an EHR that the doctor hates, an EHR that’s gone under, an EHR that’s sold to another company, etc.

The biggest problem right now with switching EHR software is that there’s no standard for the data to be exported and imported into a new EHR company. Some of you might remember my post asking EHR vendors to consider the value of EHR data liberation. In it I describe why not only is it the right ethical thing to do, but it also can make a lot of business sense to do so. Sadly, I’ve only really seen one EHR software that has embraced the concept of really liberating the data in their EHR.

I’d love to support a movement from EHR vendors that embrace the concept of EMR data liberation. I imagine most are too afraid of giving their users an easy option to leave their EHR. It’s too bad EHR vendors are so focused on protecting their business instead of focusing everything they do on the customer experience, but I digress.

Considering the above described state of EHR data export, you can see why moving to an EHR is such an issue. It’s worth mentioning this topic before you even select an EHR. Before purchasing the EHR, ask the question, What if this EHR is terrible and I want to switch? This is water under a bridge if you’re already in a compromising position under contract with an EHR you don’t like.

Unfortunately, I don’t really have very many great suggestions for those in this position. Just some words of comfort. First, switching EHR software can actually be easier than implementing an EHR in the first place. You already have the computers and IT infrastructure. Plus, for some reason second EHR implementations have a much higher success and satisfaction rate from what I’ve seen. Second, while it’s a bitter bullet to bite, everyone that I know that’s done it wishes they’d done it earlier. Although, don’t rush into another EHR just because. Take your time to select an EHR properly if you’re going to switch, but don’t be afraid to switch based on what economists call sunk costs. Third, this is one case where it’s often good to hire someone who’s done these type of EHR switching before. They can be a big help.

Surprising EHR Tweet of the Day

Posted on September 28, 2011 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

I saw this tweet and decided I couldn’t pass up posting it. When I read it, all I could think was, Yeah……right!! (yes, that last part is in the sarcasm font)

@NewIQ – David Whitaker
The next five years will be pivotal for EHR solutions. The cloud presents a real opportunity for the creation of a truly dynamic system.
Followed by…
I would not be surprised if the folks at Google or Facebook werent already working on a strategy. #EHR #cloud

I think the last thing Facebook is thinking about is anything to do with EHR. They might be interested in healthcare apps for “consumers” managing their health, but they couldn’t give a rip about EHR. They might even consider helping doctors connect with patients on Facebook (although, even that I think is unlikely), but not an EHR.

Google has probably thought of EHR back when Google Health launched. Obviously they chose to go with PHR and we see how that turned out. I don’t think Google could make a worse mistake than to try and create an EHR.

Yeah, Facebook or Google doing EHR…that would be surprising.

Guest Post: GFI FaxMaker Solves Healthcare Customers’ Faxing Needs

Posted on I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

Guest Post: This is a sponsored guest post written by James Taylor and provided by GFI FaxMaker.

HIPAA requirements are becoming a part of every technology discussion, especially within the healthcare industry. One of the biggest pain points for both doctors and dentists is faxing. The HIPAA requirements for faxing EMR/EHR records are fairly straightforward, and also fairly onerous and time consuming, and healthcare organizations are looking for better ways to do faxing. This is where GFI’s fax server software, GFI FaxMaker, steps into the scene.

Installation

Installation is easy, though it does require a domain admin account (more on that below). It can use a fax modem, FoIP SaaS service from Brooktrout, or ISDN lines, and can be installed right on your Exchange server or integrate with Exchange (or other email systems) using an SMTP connector. Install gets a 9/10.

Integration

GFI FaxMaker almost sells itself just in how easily it can be integrated into practically any client’s existing infrastructure, whether they are a private practice, or part of a huge hospital network. The email to fax and print to fax capabilities make it easy for end-users to send faxes, and helps to ensure HIPAA compliance in several ways; these include:

  1. Fax numbers can be pulled from the email client address book (GAL),
  2. Delivery confirmation reports can be automatically generated and stored with the sent faxes,
  3. Incoming faxes are delivered directly to the recipient; no paper left lying around, and no need for the user to go stand by the fax machine waiting for an incoming fax,
  4. Faxes can be stored as PDF or TIFF, and routed to network shares. Practically any client’s medical records program for EMH/EHR can consume these with no need for extra work making this another way to plug directly in to programs without needing to write any code.
  5. The ability to ‘print to fax’ makes every Windows program my clients use ‘fax capable’

    Share the printer and clients can just double-click it to start faxing from any application.

making it so easy to plug into existing infrastructure earns this a 9/10.

Fax routing flexibility

GFI FaxMaker’s routing capabilities are its best feature. You can automatically deliver faxes to users, network folders, or printers, based on several different attributes including:

If your senders’ fax machines identify themselves by CSID, you can route using that, or you can set up extensions for each user without having to get dedicated lines. Of course, it can use dedicated lines too. OCR rocks, since it can scan for the recipient’s name and deliver the fax by ‘reading’ the To: line on a cover page or finding a keyword in the body of the fax. Just don’t expect it to decipher a doctor’s handwriting.

It can also automatically archive inbound and outbound faxes as PDF or TIFF format, making it easy to import faxes into other programs or to keep a secured archive.

Most organizations are very big on electronic archiving, and they don’t have the budget to get every single doctor and PA in the practice their own fax number, so I give this a 9/10.

What I like

GFI FaxMaker installs very easily, integrates with every email environment without having to install anything on the mail server, and sets up a shared printer so users can simply print to fax. It is easy to setup, easy to understand, and just works. Getting rid of the fax machines, the stocks of ink, and all the paper left lying around that goes along with a traditional fax is great, and with no more incoming faxes hitting the output tray, there’s no chance of confidential patient information (EMR/EHR) being at risk. Considering how big a concern that is for HIPAA compliance, and how little space most offices have to ‘secure’ a traditional fax machine, this is a huge benefit and earns GFI FaxMaker a 10/10 for convenience and compliance.

What I don’t like

The one thing I don’t care for is that GFI FaxMaker wants to run under the account of a domain admin. Small offices running SBS don’t seem to care, but hospitals with Information Security departments take exception to this. Two things; no software should want to run as a domain admin, and any software that isn’t going to run as system ought to run under a service account. If you let it run under your user account, it will break in a couple of months when you change your password. In terms of how I rate this product, that counts off more than anything else.

I would also prefer the print drivers to be signed by Microsoft; I know that takes time, but it is a jarring warning in bold red when you go to install it on a Windows server.

The bottom line

GFI FaxMaker is an excellent faxing solution for health care organizations, whether they are private practice or attached to major medical centers. It’s easy to use, is able to integrate into existing systems, and contributes to HIPAA compliance – making itself a great solution on its own merits; the amount of time, money, and administrative support it saves your IT support helps it pay for itself in no time. I rate it a very strong 9/10, and bet you will too.

With all that it has to offer, GFI FaxMaker may be the best new application your healthcare practice has ever seen. But don’t just base it on my great experience, see for yourself.

Could a Smartphone Give You an Eye Exam?

Posted on I Written By

I’ve said it before, and I will say it again: It never ceases to amaze me the things that can be done with a smartphone.  The MIT Media Lab has developed a device that can attach to a smartphone and essentially provide an eye exam.  Here is the description they gave with the video below:

Our small, portable solution allows for anyone, anywhere to get an eye exam, and access a care provider through the mobile network. The setup consists of three parts: a smart phone, a hardware app and a software app.

Snap the NETRA adapter onto a smart phone loaded with NETRA software, follow the simple instructions, and quickly receive your prescription for glasses right on the phone. NETRA fits snugly in a pocket and requires minimal training to operate.

Starting with refractive errors and cataracts, NETRA and CATRA are our first of a growing line of solutions geared towards eye health. Stay tuned to our twitter feed for continual developments over the coming months.

 

 

They claim that it only requires minimal training, and judging by the video it looks pretty simple.  Obviously this won’t provide a comprehensive eye exam, but for people who can’t afford to go long distances to a doctor this could easily help them to see better.

As someone who has never really had vision problems, I can only imagine how difficult it must be to deal with not seeing well.  On the other hand I have seen my wife deal with poor vision and all of the difficulties it provides when she is not wearing her glasses.  Now people who previously had little to no chance of getting a prescription will no longer have to suffer through those difficulties.

It is also great to see that the caliber of people at MIT are working on healthcare devices and apps.  As more and more high quality developers get into the industry, the quality of new applications should only improve, and improve our lives.

More information is available on their website.

CakeHealth – Mint for Healthcare Expenses

Posted on September 27, 2011 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

For those of you that don’t keep your eye on the Silicon Valley tech scene, you might have missed the launch of a company called Cake Health at TechCrunch Disrupt. From what I can tell, they were one of the most exciting companies coming out of the popular TechCrunch Disrupt event. Here’s a short description of what Cake Health offers:

…with Cake Health, you’ll never lose track of your healthcare expenses again. Our analytics monitor your out-of-pocket cost, and what services you should be getting now. With our recommendations, your health benefits are optimized based on you actual needs and usage, so your costs are reduced.

I think the best (and most popular) phrase I’ve seen to describe Cake Health is that it’s like Mint.com for healthcare. If you’ve never used Mint.com you should check it out (although, I’ve been considering switching to Wave since Mint was bought by Intuit). They figured out a simple way to get all your financial transactions into Mint and then provided some interesting aggregate information along with ways for you to save (that’s the Mint business model).

Obviously, Cake Health is still new, but you can see a lot of these same elements in their product offering. They have easy ways for you to import your claims data. Now we’ll see how well they can help you on figuring out ways to save on your healthcare expenses. That will be their biggest challenge. The easy part for them will be monetizing their users if they get enough of them.

Although, you can see the power of what they’ve created. In 48 hours after they launched, they had over $8M in claims imported. That’s a lot of interesting healthcare data. I’ll be interested to see in what ways they can leverage that data to improve healthcare.

Meaningful Use Tool – Meaningful Use Monday

Posted on September 26, 2011 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

Lynn is out partying in New York (otherwise known as the SRSsoft user group meeting), and so I’m going to try and fill in for her today in our continuing series of Meaningful Use Monday posts.

The great thing is that I was recently sent a meaningful use tool that was developed by Stacey Chapman, a consultant at PTS Consulting Group. Here’s a little background on Stacey:

Stacey Marie Chapman is a Principal Consultant with PTS Consulting, having previously worked as an Implementation Consultant, as well as, for eClinicalWorks. Stacey recently worked on curriculum development and instructional content for the ONC sponsored Community College Consortia to Educate Health Information Technology Professionals in Health Care Program through Bronx Community College.

PTS provides customized Electronic Health Record Project Management solutions for engagements of all size and specialty; effectively aligning IT applications with client’s process models, to achieve maximum operational efficiency and overall usability.

So, this Meaningful Use tool is built in excel and goes over all the various meaningful use requirements.(Note: Since it’s an excel file, I suggest you click the download link below since excel files don’t display very well in an embed)

You can see the full screen version of the meaningful use tool here.

Also, we’d love to get more questions you’d like answered on Meaningful Use Monday. If you have any questions or think there’s a topic we haven’t covered on Meaningful Use Monday, let us know in the comments or on our Contact Us page.

New Smartphone Device May Bring Brain Scanning Home

Posted on I Written By

An amazing new gadget has been developed by researchers from the Technical University of Denmark.  They have developed a portable EEG device that can monitor brain activity using a Nokia N900 smartphone.  According to an article from medgadget.com this new device would allow people to monitor their brain activity from the comfort of their homes without having to go in for an expensive procedure.

The system also uses a commercially available Emotive EPOC wireless EEG headset and a specially designed app.  Using these tools together, multiple users can monitor their brain waves while working together on a task.  That should provide interesting insights into how our brains work individually.

It can also be hooked up with more powerful computers to provided in depth analysis of the information.  While it will likely not replace traditional scanners, not will it become something that everyday people will use, it could become extremely useful.  It could allow people to save time and money by being tested at home rather than making expensive doctors visits.

This also seems to be the general trend of mobile medical devices.  Creating the ability to do things at home that previously required a visit to the doctor.  It will be interesting to see how many of these devices actually achieve widespread adoption.